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$186,000 AEP Foundation grant to help startup certification training at PHCC


LEFT TO RIGHT: David Swisher, a Customer Service Account Manager with AEP and a PHCC Foundation Board member; Amanda Cox, AEP’s External Affairs Manager; Angeline Godwin, PHCC’s President; Daniel Edwards, Industrial Electronics Technology Instructor at PHCC; Rhonda Hodges, PHCC’s Vice President of Workforce, Economic, and Community Development; Tiffani Underwood, the Interim Director of PHCC’s Foundation; and Ron Haley, the Chairman of PHCC Foundation Board

MARTINSVILLE – The American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation – a charitable organization which aims to improve lives through education – has announced that Patrick Henry Community College will be the recipient of a nearly two-hundred thousand dollar grant.

With the grant, the college is establishing the AEP Foundation Industry 4.0 Alliance. The Alliance is made up of industry leaders and community partners who support the growth and expansion of Industry 4.0 training at PHCC. The Alliance, which is headlined by the AEP Foundation, also includes NC3 and Festo – industry leaders in advanced manufacturing – and community partners such as The Harvest Foundation. The college anticipates that more partners will be joining the newly formed alliance soon.

The first objective for the Alliance is to help PHCC launch Industry 4.0 level two training to prepare graduates to work with cloud computing and cyber-physical technologies. The grant money from the AEP Foundation and donations from other members of the Alliance will cover some of the startup costs and equipment purchases PHCC will need to begin offering Industry 4.0 level two certification training. The college has been offering the Industry 4.0 level one certification since August 2018.

The concept for Industry 4.0 training was developed just last year by NC3 in partnership with Festo and leaders in other advanced manufacturing industries. Training for this emerging career field is so new that PHCC is one of only two colleges in the nation to offer all level 1 certifications. Presently, no training facility in America offers the Industry 4.0 level two certification that PHCC is preparing to launch. When the college begins offering level two training this summer, it will be one of the first training facilities in the world to offer Industry 4.0 training at that level.

“Thanks to the support of our AEP Foundation Industry 4.0 Alliance partners, PHCC is able to rapidly respond to industry innovation. You cannot get more up-to-date and relevant than this level two training.” says PHCC instructor Daniel Edwards. “Being on the cutting edge of industry developments means our students know how to work with, run, and troubleshoot some of the most advanced equipment in the industry. They are setting themselves apart in a major way – putting on their resume exactly the skills that local employers are looking for.”

For the students, earning an Industry 4.0 level 2 certification could mean more job offers to higher paying jobs and faster career advancement. Locally, employers like Mehler Engineered Products, Eastman, Georgia Pacific, and Hanesbrands are already seeking employees who have the level 2 skills. Locally, positions that require level two certifications typically pay more than $40,000 a year.

“Getting certified in Industry 4.0 level 1 has already proven highly beneficial to our students,” says Edwards. “Now, we are literally taking it to a whole new level. The jobs they’ll be able to get and the pay they can make will increase with each level we can offer. What we’re doing thanks to the AEP Foundation Industry 4.0 Alliance will have an incredible impact in our students’ lives – opening doors to the middle class.”

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